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This may be the most important book of its kind since Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. Though written for the beginner, it has been justly praised by scholars too, including Israel Kirzner, Walter Block, and Peter Boettke. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem.

Return to Book Page. The second edition of the fun and fascinating guide to the main ideas of the Austrian School of economics, written in sparkling prose especially for the non-economist. Gene Callahan shows that good economics isn't about government planning or statistical models. It's about human beings and the choices they make in the real world. This may be the most important book of its The second edition of the fun and fascinating guide to the main ideas of the Austrian School of economics, written in sparkling prose especially for the non-economist.

Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 8. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Economics for Real People , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Economics for Real People. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order.

Jul 02, Ash Moran rated it it was amazing Shelves: own-a-copy , society , economics , books-i-read-in I read this book as one of a list of 5, and I wrote a blog post to summarise it. Economics for Real People is the densest and most detailed of the economics books here. Rather than derive economics from a Robinson Crusoe environment, Callahan uses a more contemporary metaphor: In our alternative universe, Rich is still the winner [of the first series of Survivor], but as the film crew packs up, they decide that they are fed up with his antics.

Instead of transporting him home, they quietly slip off while Rich is getting in a last session of nude sunbathing. Rich arises to find that he is alone. He is now facing the most elementary human problem, how to survive, in the most basic of settings. What can economics say about his situation? Human action is purposeful behaviour. Human preference is subjective. An economic community forms when Callahan introduces a second person to the island: Helena Bonham-Carter.

What does Rich decide to do? One possibility is that Rich might react like a bear does, [and] try to drive the intruder away. Now, he might refrain from doing so due to moral constraints or benevolent feelings. But there is another reason for him not to drive Helena off - as long as there are sufficient unused resources on the island, it will materially benefit both of them to co-operate rather than fight. They can initiate the vastly enriching process of the division of labour and voluntary exchange.

From here we are taught the way direct exchange plays out, in terms of each of their subjective preferences for rats and traps. As more people join the island, we see goats and corn introduced, and a market start to form. But, notably, there is still no money on the island. With a couple of minor exceptions, everything is as clear and grounded as the foundations in chapter 1. This was by far the most enlightening book in the list to me, although it took correspondingly the most investment in time.

Jan 15, AJ Slater rated it liked it. A quick overview of Austrian School principles. They're extreme laissez faire minarchists who believe the role of the state stops at stopping violence and enforcing property rights. There's not much depth to this easy reader, nor was there intended to be. A more complete text might offer more contrast with classic and keynesian schools and address faults with the Austrian school.

I don't need convincing that markets are terribly useful and that there are flaws with keynesian theory. The descripti A quick overview of Austrian School principles. The description of the Austrian Business Cycle was kind of a caricature of the worst excesses of state induced market distortion.

Their knee-jerk vilification of the state, seems more bent on demonizing full state socialists. Beating up on communists is too easy and hardly strengthens any argument. But the Austrians are not strict anti-collectivists. They seem to believe that if property rights were set up correctly and enforced, then the worst aspects of the state: coercion and wealth misallocation would be minimized.

As you can imagine they think poorly of fiat currency and the inflation stealth tax as well. Overall a good breezy into to Austrian economic theory. Oct 24, Muhammad al-Khwarizmi rated it did not like it Shelves: crap , economics , philosophy. I promised myself I'd read more about Austrian economics so that I'd be more certain of the things I'm having a go at.

At any rate, I suspected that I wouldn't go through a Damascene conversion by the end of this book, and I was right. Most of the things I will have to say are negative. But first, the positive: At one point, Callahan lambastes the labor theory of value.

I am essentially in agreement with him that subjective theory of value, a staple of the Austrian school, is essentially correct. I also agree that there is far too much ad hocery in LToV; basically, any excuse at all will do for its defenders. Nonetheless, I do not believe that a "free market economy" as defined by Austrians—and of course there are several competing definitions, minarchist, an-cap, etc. More on the hypocrisy of prescribing objective ethics with the STV later.

Another good thing about this book, and about Austrian economics, is the focus on the generative nature of economic behavior. There is too much focus in neoclassical economics on equilibrium results and in at least one case, that of Nash equilibria, only existence is guaranteed. The equilibrium strategy in a given situation might even be unknowable, because some are quite simply uncomputable.

Austrian economics places more focus on the generative, the evolutionary issues, how an economy gets somewhere, and not merely the end result.

The downside is that it, in my estimation, does this incompetently, through an introspective, deductive approach. Armchair economics. There are a few other things I like. For one thing, I was always uneasy about lumping all of capital into a single variable "K". The author elaborates on the "structure of capital".

It describes investment in the game Cookie Clicker well. Regarding Callahan in particular, he really has a knack for vivid analogies and metaphors, such that I want to believe things that are probably not true. He pokes fun at some silly tendencies of left-liberals as well.

I was surprised to find out that some expect that there should be laws requiring that software be bug-free. I can't even wrap my head around that. At most, I can imagine laws requiring the mission-critical software to remain functional, in such instances as it can be rigorously verified and validated.

Otherwise, fat chance. It's simply not possible. Even if perfect software can be made, the von Neumann architecture in which most software is implemented is not especially robust; what good is perfect software when hardware is so fallible? And, of course, there is the perhaps beaten-dead horse of the Soviet Union, in which everyone was equal, but some people were more equal than others.

That was the good. Now, here comes the laundry list of complaints. The first has to do with the nature of utility.


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